THE TOURIST BY ROBERT DICKINSON
PUBLISHED BY LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY
REVIEW BY CALLIE STEVENS
What a ride! This is an exhilarating and original conspiracy thriller that propels you forward with a need to find out what happens.
The novel opens with ‘you’ in a prison, and you have been there for the past 17 years for a crime that is not revealed. The point of view switches in the next chapter to Spens, a tourist agent from the future taking a bus trip of clueless people, also from the 24th century, to a typical 21st century shopping mall. There is a small road accident on the way back, nothing they didn’t already know about. But then one of the tourists goes missing; an incident not included on the original report from the future. What havoc could they wreck in the past? Who is the prisoner and what have they done? And what does the reliable and versatile travel rep Spens have to do with it all?
These dual narratives of the prisoner in the future and Spens, from the future but working in our time, continue to parallel to each other and keep the reader guessing how they are connected. The effect is to create a mystery; one that I couldn’t wait to solve.
The rare use of second person perspective and the ingenious way the author weaves the complex time-lines of all the characters together in an understandable way is fantastic. There are intriguing hints at a near extinction event in our future, which is the past for most of the main characters in the book. This alone is thought provoking and allows for many conspiracy theories in this compelling read.
There is no denying that this is a very complex and multi-layered time travel tale, but the characters are painted clearly and they gently walk you through the fascinating minefield of potential paradox. But beyond these ‘simple’ ideas associated with time travel and ethical behavior, there is something more. The novel asks us about our own behaviour and human nature itself. Would we do things differently if we knew what was going to happen? How does power change people?
Now excuse me while I start rereading the book to look for more clues…
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.